MADISONVILLE-A building with a long
history in Madisonville, but which had been empty for more than a
year, suffered massive damage from a fire that started just before
12:30 a.m. Monday.
Located on College Street, two
buildings down from the courthouse, the building has a sign
identifying it as the Hayden Building, but for years it was the
office of the Carson White and Alliman law firm. The firm had moved
across the street, leaving the building empty.
Madisonville Fire Chief John Tallent
said the fire was concentrated on the second floor and firefighters
ringed the building and dowsed it with water.
"Knowing the building was empty," Tallent said, "I didn't want to risk any firefighters lives, so
we just surrounded it and hit it with water until it was out."
Total damage is not known yet and
Tallent said the owner of the building would provide that information
"I wouldn't want to guess at the
cause of the fire," Tallent said. "We haven't been inside yet."
City Codes Enforcement Officer Tony
Wilson said it's too early to tell if the building will have to
"I'd rather wait and see what an
engineer says," Wilson said. "If the fire and damage was
contained to the upstairs area, it might be salvaged."
While no one seems to know the exact
age of the building, Madisonville Alderman Gus Davis said he could
remember it being there when he was a kid.
"I'm 62," he said, "and I can
remember it having a restaurant in it when I was a kid, so it's at
least that old."
Over the years the building also
housed, among other things, a phone company office, an insurance
office, the town library and recently a small used bookstore, though
it was mainly known as the home of the White, Carson and Alliman law
It was estimated more than a million
gallons of water was used to put out the fire, leading to temporary
water shortages in the Hiwassee Knobs area. The fire is being
investigated by the State Bomb and Arson Office, but the cause had
not been determined as of Tuesday.